Is there a literal Hell? Is it a lake of fire that never goes out? Is eternal torment really God’s way of handling people who refuse to accept Christ?
Is there a literal Hell? Is it a lake of fire that never goes out? Is eternal torment really God’s way of handling people who refuse to accept Christ? Doesn’t that seem a bit harsh? Where did this whole idea even come from? Is hell in the bible or did we just make all this crap up?
This week we are talking with Matthew Challenor. Matthew was born and raised in a Baptist household but once he reached his early twenties, walked away from church. After a spiritual encounter he found his way back as a follower of Christ but then ended up in the hospital with what everyone believed was a heart attack.
After some extensive testing, Matthew was diagnosed with extreme stress and this, along with some already pressing questions lead him into deconstruction. The pressures of living up to God’s supposed standard were replaced with an understanding of God’s love.
One of the areas Matthew found himself deconstructing was Hell. The idea that a good God would send people into a pit of eternal torment didn’t seem to add up according to God’s character. So Matthew began researching where the idea of hell came from and where we misconstrued it along the way.
Cody Johnston 1:30
77. Today we have on a new friend of ours, Matthew Challinor, Matthew, honestly, we came across him through a friend of a friend on Facebook. his very first post was exactly what the title of this episode is. It was talking about hell and deconstructing hell and the beliefs behind hell. So in this episode, we just go in to some of the depths is that can you use the word depth when you’re talking about hell? Is that appropriate?
Elaine Johnston 1:58
Yes, absolutely. I I think that is very appropriate. Well, so we’re gonna station
Cody Johnston 2:04
Yeah, and there’s some playing of devil’s advocate. I’m sorry, I gotta stop with the puns. Ah, stick a fork in me. I’m sorry. So yeah, but seriously, Matthew, just present some great points. He, he shares his story, he shares just what brought on his deconstruction, some alternate views of hell. And really, he drops a statistic that is absolutely mind blowing come about mid conversation. So I cannot encourage you enough. If the conversation of Hell has ever intrigued you it has ever calls you. Yeah, anything like that this statistic in of itself is worth hearing. So what the hell stay around. Okay, I’m done. That’s it. Okay, let’s get to the conversation with Matthew challenger. Hey, everyone, welcome to the reckless pursuit. We’re sitting here with Matthew Challinor. Matthew, how are you doing very well, thank you. How you doing? Well, and Okay, so Matthew, I don’t even know how we found you. I guess like a friend of a friend through Facebook. And the very first thing I ever saw that you shared was literally like this expansive post on hell. And almost like just deconstructing hell, and it caught my it caught my attention. And so I added you. And like, I’ve really enjoyed following all of your work. So this is just a plug. Matthew is not here to like plug a book or anything just yet. And so I just want to tell you all I go find him if you just need like a refreshing guy, like
Elaine Johnston 3:34
everything that you post on Facebook.
Cody Johnston 3:38
That’s fun. It’s great. Love it. Matthew, tell us a little about your story. What’s your church background and just kind of bring us up to where you’re at now?
Matthew Challenor 3:48
Well, for me, I was raised Baptist, and just kind of like hid behind my parents faith, I just was kind of just cool with just inheriting
beliefs, I guess. And then when I got to the ripe old age of probably 21, I fell away and had a bit of a party scene. And then after I discovered the Father’s love, and he reached out to me, and I know I kind of rededicated myself back. Back to him, I came back into the church and study the Bachelor of ministry at a Baptist Theological college here in Brisbane, Australia. And after that, I kind of had some supernatural and miraculous experience. This is that kind of led me more into the charismatic stream. And from there, I I’ve just been, I’ve had my last three years at Bethel Church, California, doing the school there, and now I’m back in Australia, and in some deconstruction, so what would you say brought on deconstruction for you? Well, the triggering factor was when I got into a relationship
With my now fiance, I didn’t actually realize how many bad beliefs I had until I extreme chest pain one morning and passed out or blacked out from the pain and ended up in hospital for three nights for what seemed like a heart attack, but that I had to have an angiogram they were they scan my heart while I was there, and they saw my heart was perfect. So it was pretty much stress related. Put it down to so. So at that point, I was like, Okay, what am I believing? Why am I believing it? What’s extra? What’s biblical? And how much of this Can I sift through and throw it out? So that was where deconstruction’s for me. I’m like, wow, I have some real bad core beliefs about the father, about myself and about all these other well at the start, it was really only deconstructing in the area.
relationships and surrounding the idea of the one. And this whole pressure that gets put in church culture that says there’s, you have to wait for God’s appointed mate. Like, if you and then you see people if you marry the wrong one, you’re going to screw your future. And you’re done. Really? Yeah. So that was probably the starting point. So you have been noticed you’ve been posting a little bit about that lately. rousing have a few feathers on now and I completely get it the whole idea. I don’t even know like maybe not specifically relationships, but the whole idea of like, any little thing you do, God is always waiting test. Like that’s going to be the thing that throws you out of his horse questioning anything, any small mistake God’s like, Oh, no, you can’t come to heaven. Specifically with the topic at hand today. And my is this is the very first post I ever saw that you had. It was just talking about hell. And hell is something that I have always struggle
Cody Johnston 7:00
with, I guess the idea of, if God created everything, then ultimately God’s sending people to burn forever. Like there’s like one of my mind always wants to go back to so what made you deconstruct the idea of hell? And maybe what were your original beliefs on it?
Matthew Challenor 7:16
Well, I think when it comes to Hell, I think a lot of people, but it’s not really talked about, because I think it gets stuff down because the idea of an eternal conscious torment. And I think for a lot of people, like it’s a scary topic, because it’s just like, we have to keep this out of the way. So we’re not going to talk about it. So it’s just kind of ignored. And I think you’ve come to this thing called cognitive dissonance, or it’s just like, these two opposing ideas of the goodness of God. And then you see in Corinthians love keeps no record of wrongs. And God is love on Jesus saying, forgive and love your enemies. It’s like, but I’m going to burn mine forever. So like these two minutes, ideas that I think a lot of people struggle with, so they just start talking about hell. And the point that started deconstruction in this area was for me, is generally I’m not like paying out evangelists, but an evangelist, evangelists and more probably prone to preach. Harsha truth, I think it’s probably just the way they want to like don’t water it down, like Bang, bang, bang, like, but
Cody Johnston 8:28
when they have the freedom of leaving,
Matthew Challenor 8:31
yeah, yeah. And I think the thing that triggered it for me was when I saw an evangelist post, guys, please accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, or you will be tortured and held by demons for all eternity. Now, it’s just like, that sounds like like, maybe I was already a point of thinking about it, and kind of deconstructing it in my mind. But at that, I just read the post. And it did nothing for me in that, like, in a spiritual sense, I just looked at it. And I was just like, that is so much bias, and thrusting your own views into the text, that it’s like, not even funny. So that’s when I was kind of like, Okay, what does? What does the Bible Really Teach about? Hell? Yeah, I’m just like, it’s just so apparent that there’s just so much bias just thrust into things.
Elaine Johnston 9:24
So where do you think churches kind of cross that line of where do you think those biases come from?
Matthew Challenor 9:30
I kind of think it’s just come from tradition. And I like I said, I don’t think people that look into it and study it, because I think they think they’re in Christ. So what’s the point of studying it? It’s just this kind of like this ugly aside that we can just push down. Like, it doesn’t actually need to be talked about, because we’re all good, because we’re in the club, like, and that that makes us safe. So there’s not really a need to talk about it. It’s just an inherited thing that gets passed down, but never actually looked into because I think as soon as people start asking questions, you get labeled. Churches might see you as a backslide, they might think these are unhealthy questions, we need to squash them. Like it’s kind of what the podcast is about. Right? I mean, again, like unsafe questions in a safe way. Absolutely.
Cody Johnston 10:21
Yeah. Yeah. And Hell’s an interesting one, I feel like how can be used two different ways? Right, it can be used as like the celebrant, Tory tool for the Christians who were like, Oh, yeah, we don’t have to worry about hell, we’re saved. Like, it’s kind of that whole, like you said, the in club mentality. But then also, it’s easily used is kind of more of a fear tactic to try to coax people into church. And because I mean, what better? There’s like two primal emotions, right? You people are typically respond best to either fear or to comfort. So like, hell, like eternal torment is a pretty much as bad as it can get. So of course, it’s an easy thing to, to kind of use.
Matthew Challenor 11:04
Yeah, I think people are kind of like, dumbed down to the idea. Like, if you really think about being tortured, all eternity and fire and brimstone, like, that shouldn’t sit well with us. And I think it should call this a lot more questions than it is. So I think I think people are like people speaking about that. But the majority of majority of people aren’t majority of people probably just wrestle with the idea and private, but I think it should, was more of a stir than it actually does. Because I think we’ve heard the story of eternal torment for so long, we’ve lost the impact of what it would actually mean,
Cody Johnston 11:45
it’s interesting to me, because whenever I go back and forth with people now like with my new view of hell, or what have you, or really anything, this the way I try to resolve is like, does that make sense for God’s character? Does that make sense for Jesus’s character, and so many people have kind of responded, like, I made a status that was like, we’re not born sinners. Right, which is, I think we did we talked about that in one of our podcasts is like we’re born into like, a world that has a nature of sin. But that doesn’t mean you’re born instantaneously as this sinner, dark La Soul, right. And so, people find comfort in these things, they find comfort in things like hell, because it’s like they’re being saved from something. And that’s like, the foundation of their faith is I’m being saved from eternal torment. And one of the biggest things with hell that like I really want people to be challenged to, is to look at it of instead of looking at everything is Yay, I’m not saying or like I’m not having to burn. Look at it more of through the eyes of grace through the eyes of love, like, your relationship with Jesus to me, if it’s based off of a fear of burning to death, that’s a really sucky relationship. Like, yeah, like if I had a relationship with my wife. And the only reason I, you know, I loved Elaine was because if I didn’t love her, she was going to, like, stick a lighter to me every night. That would be a tear of like, it’s a really abusive relationship. Yeah. And I feel like Christ is more loving. What What do you think about that? Like, what do you think about the whole idea of people just kind of grabbing onto that fear? And, and how can we transition out of finding comfort in that versus finding comfort in who Christ is?
Matthew Challenor 13:28
Yeah, well, that’s actually the biggest thing that didn’t make sense to me when I started deconstructing hell, not even throwing out the idea of like death, and I elation in the sense of like, like that, like, you know, like, not eternal hell ceasing to exist. Like, bang, done destruction in one guy. The biggest thing that people would saying is, if it’s not a thing, then why would I leave my life of sin? Leave my past? Or like, if what what are we saved from? If not, hell, as in specifically eternal torment. It’s just like, well, you just you just treating Jesus like his he the fire insurance, or his your golden ticket into Candy Land, like the, it’s like you can’t like can you really not see the value in your salvation, like, purely in Jesus? Like, I mean, united to him, being one spirit with them, your experiences wonderful, beautiful unity with the Father. And you experienced this whole new life, where you walk in free freedom and peace and a joy that just exceeds anything that the world could ever give you? And it’s like, there’s so much beauty in being united to the life of Christ. It’s sad when it’s like, what’s the point? If he didn’t save you from roasting, for all eternity? From like an internal was Dave. So he just barbecued? 24? Seven? So like, like, that just doesn’t sit right with me at all.
Cody Johnston 15:13
Yeah, I agree. I think that’s probably one of the biggest things that like, I wish I could express to people. It’s just letting people understand like, know, if you truly feel Christ, like you don’t need the fear of hell, like that goes away. A lot of people like to kind of throw up. Well, Jesus talks about hell, what are some of the practical things that maybe you have got out of that and kind of more accurate representations or understandings of what Jesus was talking about?
Matthew Challenor 15:40
I think we need to look at like what the Jews thought about all of that, right? So Jesus was speaking to Jewish people, it was speaking, he came, like for the Jews first. And you see the context and who is talking to is talking to religious leaders. And he the word hell never at Jesus math, the word Ghana did and use the word ladies as well, Ghana and itself, the word that Jesus used was a literal, garbage dump outside of Jerusalem, where bodies would burn and the whole Matthew 24, Matthew 25, was all about Matthew 24, being the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 8070. And we missed the fact that Jesus first first application of this because I think people want to like layer it, but his Jesus intended meaning was, hey, this temple is going to be torn down. And essentially is saying Jerusalem is going to be destroyed. And there was literally 1.1 million Jews burned in the valley of him. Okay, Hannah, after the temple was destroyed, it was a literal place, and mass bodies were burned.
Cody Johnston 17:00
So talking, you said also, you mentioned he mentioned Hades, right? So what does that referencing?
Matthew Challenor 17:05
Hades is just the grave. So Hades is the Greek word for what she all is in, in Hebrew. So they were kind of like the Greek translation for the same thing. And you see it in Ecclesiastes and job and like all these passages that referring to Hades or shield as a grave where the righteous and the unrighteous go, and it’s it’s almost like I think it’s like debated whether like they were conscious or unconscious. They’re like Paul talks about sleep. If hell isn’t
Cody Johnston 17:38
a lake of fire and playing his devil’s advocate the right word, I feel like this. Okay, we’re going to say is devil’s advocate. So since we’re talking about hell, I left my Pitchfork in the closet but so if it’s not a literal lake of fire, you kind of had mentioned this just a second ago but what are some of the alternative views of what has hell might be in like the spiritual sense
Matthew Challenor 18:03
well, revelation in itself, the book that mentions the lake of fire is highly symbolic book. If we go Oh, it’s so symbolic, but the lake of fire that’s literal. It’s just like, require the same thing, right? Even revelations about the lake of fire being the second death, where Death and Hades the grave is swallowed up forever. My view of hell is this like, I never see a tunnel toman I never see over one I never see hell being created. In the Genesis account. You think if the tunnel tullman was a thing, it would probably should be mentioned that that hell was made. And then you see, like God saying to Adam, like you will surely die. And he also says later from dust you came in from dust your return. You see, like, Jesus came so that we wouldn’t perish. We have a tunnel. And Jesus came to save us from sin and death. Like from the Jewish perspective, they really never believed in an eternal or a mortal soul, or even a resurrection outside of the Messiah. So I think the Greek idea of the an immortal soul was adopted into the church early on by Oregon like that. If your souls not a tunnel, and a model outside of Christ, how could that be an eternal hell? So basically, in essence, if you’re a Christian or if you’re an atheist, you’re right about your destination. Yeah, well, essentially you cease to exist. Well, I guess annihilation ism is I’m sure you know what it is. But it’s like those that are in Christ are raised imperishable unto eternal life, and those who are not in Christ, I don’t know if they experienced that in a moment, like in a in a spiritual sense if there is a lake of fire, but there’s just like, like a ceasing to exist, being swallowed up. I just don’t see any grounds for an eternal torment. I think there are some verses that would say day and night or unquenchable fire or everlasting like all these words that people get to know the idea of something something big in town, but like a lot of its hyperbole. A lot of it’s like this exaggerated prophetic language
Elaine Johnston 20:27
what kind of backlash Have you gotten from these views? Because I know you you’re always on Facebook posting things and not just about hell, but just like, everything about Yeah, destruction, faith religion, like what what feedback or backlash Have you received for sharing your views?
Matthew Challenor 20:45
I was pretty surprised was called the vile Sup? And like, I’ve never been called that. Yeah, hi. OI, chill, dude. Like, it’s all good. Like, why? Yeah. It’s intense. Yes, like literally the most intense thing you could say to someone vile stuff. But I don’t know, I just, you just kind of it just kind of makes you deconstruct all the more because it’s like, when you see that kind of stuff come out, like when views a challenge. You’re like, all right, well, you don’t like questions or discussions, and let you going to name calling, it’s almost like the hate and the venom kind of comes out when something’s challenge, kind of just I don’t know, I just kind of feel sorry, really, for them. Not like say I’m better than them or anything like that. But I don’t know. When you have to resort to name calling and stuff. You can see some insecurity that
Cody Johnston 21:41
I think we get, we get super caught up on literal everything I think we can get so caught up. You know, it’s interesting that we construct these views, right? We have these views, and they’re just interpretations. You know, like we take these readings, everyone everything. I mean, there wouldn’t be denominations, there wouldn’t be divisions amongst the church. And there wouldn’t be different translations of the Bible if we didn’t have a different interpretation of those original texts. Yet, when someone comes with something as simple as this, I mean, honestly, like, let’s think about it. Hell in and of itself, it’s it’s pretty simple concept. It’s, it’s a very like it’s borrowed from many different religions, especially with like, Greek mythology and Zoroastrianism like it pulls from a lot of these different religions. And we kind of sit here and we’re so focused on this doctrine we’ve created maybe in like the late 1800s, I don’t know it’s not even like that old of a doctrine that we believe this right? And yet, we defend it to like our core, because it’s something we grew up with what has been the hardest part, let me ask you this. This is a good transition here. Who was God to you before you deconstructed and who is God to you now?
Matthew Challenor 22:50
Well, before I deconstructed
I guess there are some places where you like read the Bible and you like I just these two competing views like I didn’t, I don’t think my relationship with God has changed in like, incredibly, because I never really thought about hell before I deconstructed I guess now I just I have a deeper appreciation for Jesus, what he came to give that we would have a total life came that we could, his kingdom could come and invade Earth now. And we could be united his life now. And see this world impacted by the kingdom of God. And I think something that was huge for me is I’ve in this season, like, I’m just being wrecked on done by the love of the Father. Like That is something Yeah, that’s probably the one of the hugest things to me at the moment. It’s just receiving the love of the Father on deeper levels, and just seeing how like, radically good he is, and that he’s not actually this bipolar monster God that says, forgive your enemies, but I might, mine for all eternity. Oh, love keeps no records of wrongs. And God is love. But you know what, I keep everyone’s record. I read it to them on the last day and shame them and some all burn for eternity. And, yeah, so it’s just, I don’t know, I just see that. It’s almost like a clear picture of God, like the father looks exactly like Jesus, Jesus is the exact representation of the nature of the Father. There’s not all these different pictures of God that I’m trying to like, reconcile. It’s always like, I just, I don’t I just want to receive His love.
Cody Johnston 24:36
I love how you said you had a clearer view. Because one of my, with deconstructing like some my beliefs, the thing that keeps coming back to me is removing lenses. We have the lens of the church, we have the lens of our parents, we have the lens of our friends, we have the lens of our culture, and like you said, a clearer view. And to me, that is what deconstruction is. It’s just it’s taking a clearer view of God. And I love that what a what was one of the hardest parts about deconstruction just overall for you?
Matthew Challenor 25:04
Well, I think it’s hard. Like when you deconstruct You mean, like these, these really deep, cold beliefs that you’ve had your whole life and you’ve grown up in and when they start to get shaken. It’s, it’s like, well, where’s my foundation? Now? Yeah, I mean, if you deconstructing from all these things that you once believed, you have to like, anchor yourself to something, I think something that was CS Lewis said was so good. It’s like, if you see through everything, you see nothing. And just like there’s there has to be something for me to bite down on. And I think this is where deconstruction can go, I don’t know one way or the other, like a deconstruction, I think, but I felt like God actually gave me a picture, like a prophetic picture, like a little while ago, and I saw this big painting of God. And God was like, I get it now suit and you see all these different, like makeup on him. And Jesus came, and he started to wipe away all these other things on the face of this portrait of God that I was looking at. So I was like, Okay, I’m, I’m stripping away all the way that all the way that politics has influenced your idea of God, how nationalism has affected your idea of God, how this particular denomination has affected your view of God. I think destruct deconstruction is done well, when we don’t lose Jesus, and his good Bob, like, we are just scrubbing away all these bad beliefs that we’ve been raised in and never question before. Because really, there is for every person out there, there’s a God out there, like even amongst Christians, I, you’ve got dramatic polar opposites of beliefs. You got like Mark Driscoll on one side, Greg Boyd, on the other side, would be being intellectually dishonest with ourselves, if we think that there should be one interpretation. But it’s clearly not that way.
Cody Johnston 27:07
How did deconstruction impact your relationship with some of your friends and family? Was? was it like for you specifically? What was your your experience with that?
Matthew Challenor 27:16
Well, it was actually really, really good. So when I talked about it, I realized that they had kind of been thinking that Anyway, my family, my parents, and stuff would be more set in their ways. But they, they kind of heard some of us and they’re like, Oh, they just kind of admitted that they hadn’t looked into it themselves that they don’t know, they couldn’t really say anything. My brother, when I told him about my my views of how he was kind of like referring, referring me to other like, lecturers who were in who are lecturing apologetics classes at my college, who work for people like Brian Zacharias that have actually the same view of hell as me. And I’ve actually been seeing in in the Baptist world, and other denominations as well, that annihilation ism. And conditional immortality, as it’s called, is actually becoming a widely. I don’t know, it’s becoming a more widely accepted view anyway. It’s not as much widely accepted within charismatic.
Cody Johnston 28:25
Yeah, I think it’s funny too, because charismatic, so the ones that you would think would adopt things a little easier, because they’re so like, they have so much of that kind of practice in them anyway, but I guess, literal, physical. What’s the right word? literal, physical, or like literal, spiritual things. If there is such thing as a literal, spiritual thing, I guess they’re easier for them to grab on to. But I would definitely say that deconstruction is becoming more mainstream as we allow ourselves, we’re a generation allowing ourselves to ask these things. Would you agree?
Matthew Challenor 28:59
Oh, absolutely. Like there is some leaders publicly deconstructing? I don’t know if you heard of Joshua Harris. And I have, he wrote a piece dating goodbye.
Cody Johnston 29:10
I think it was, Oh, yeah. He’s in a lot of hot water right now for that. Yeah. His whole deconstruction stuff.
Matthew Challenor 29:16
Yeah, he’s going going through that. Honestly, I think a lot of people are going through it. I think there may even be people in church leadership that are going through it that don’t want to say anything, because you would lose position, you would lose influence, like it had does have its implications with it. Like if you go through it, and you are public about it, like it’s not going to be received well by everyone. Like a lot of people think you’re backsliding but to you its growth. So it’s just like, people think you’re backsliding, and people hold all these different assumptions about who you are. They’ll even assume things about you while not knowing your story. And that’s probably one of the things I like the least, about the process is people can really like that one, assume you’re backsliding. Assume that you’re losing your faith. When in reality, your faith is kind of being purified, all this extra stuff is just being cut away.
Cody Johnston 30:10
I don’t know for some reason in my head reminds me that I need to know a Bible verse starting like a refining fire, and are like the image of hell comes up in my head of that of like, maybe that, in essence is hell on earth is like we’re being purified to be more like Christ. I don’t know. I’m getting weird with that. But anyway. So
Matthew Challenor 30:26
Fire Fire is used a lot in Scripture, in a purifying sense. There are some people that point out the rest of Revelation, which will burn day and night, the presence of the Lamb. And I don’t know, I’m like, Well, if I believe that someone was going to burn day and night, in the presence of God, all eternity, I’m just like, oh, how would I, I would probably probably end up holding a view close to the, like, universal reconciliation. Because I mean, I don’t think he could resist the love and goodness of God, for all eternity. I think one day, every knee really would bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. Even some Jews hold to that man, they they believe in a one year 12 month process of permeation, where they believe that you ensure like business or in Ghana, or they say to him, you enter this process where they actually call hell the kindness of God, because this fire is actually purifying and cleansing souls. And at the end of this pug ation process, this purified souls go to heaven, or those who are utterly wicked, get destroyed, like those who aren’t actually purified by the fire. So it’s interesting to see like the different the different views and kind of come along with it. I’m not afraid of questions like when people say universal reconciliation, like I’m not in that place, obviously. But I mean, I’m not afraid people asking those questions at all. Well, in the end, the beauty of that is, we can all ask questions, the rest of our lives, and we’re all going to be wrong. And that’s like, absolutely. And when you kind of frame it that way, it takes away a lot of the scariness of it. Yeah, it does, like the only hate you might come from Christians. We can shouldn’t be that way at all. But yeah, I think questions are great thing questions like we can’t post about this recently about deconstruction, but the church has to have real authentic answers. The church has got to stop saying to people, like diagnosing them that something’s wrong, or accuse them of not taking scripture seriously, or accuse them of not liking a particular belief. So you just decided to throw it away and cherry pick it, throw it away and embrace heresy. It’s like the church has to stop doing that, because they’re just going to lose members like crazy.
Cody Johnston 32:56
Well, and you know, something that’s interesting about what you just said, churches, the very same thing, churches, cherry pick Bible verses, every single church, cherry picks Bible verses, we all do that, to some extent. I’m not trying to justify it. What I’m saying is, it’s it’s about interpretation, right? Like there are plenty of churches that view this aspect in this church over here thinks that church is going to hell because they do that, while this church think that church is going to hell for something they’re doing. Like, it’s, it’s kind of humorous and sad at the same time, I don’t know. But,
Matthew Challenor 33:30
and I think construction gives you a stand back perspective, where you can see these different things happening. And it just doesn’t make sense. That means I deconstruction, I think, offers perspective. So you’re not actually caught in the middle of us and them mentality where politics is kind of like, invaded. And it’s like, let’s divide, and say you’re out, and I’m in because it makes me feel comfortable. It makes me feel safe. I think deconstruction allows you to kind of take take a step back and look at all these different things happening going on. But you can’t see the hypocrisy, like you’re actually doing the same thing. And, yeah, I saw, I heard a statistic 28% of the unchurched. Their first problem with not engaging Christianity is the idea of a good God torturing people in hell forever. That’s a huge statistic. Like that’s coming on, like a third of people. That’s then and there might be, like, the biggest was the idea of homosexuality. But you never know those people in that large chunk, their second biggest problem could have been with the idea of an eternal hell. So it’s, it’s questions that we should be asking, like, because I think it does have enormous implications on the gospel, like people aren’t even engaging with Jesus, and our awesomely good, amazing father, just because this eternal hell, which is hugely open to interpretation is automatically held on to. Yeah, I don’t know, I think we need to rethink help.
Cody Johnston 35:09
And I think that goes right back with what we were talking about towards the beginning of this episode of when you can fall in love with who Jesus is. And it’s no longer this, oh, it’s my golden ticket, right? Like you were saying, that change. Like that’s literally that ideology is what’s keeping, you know, a large, large percentage of people who have never stepped foot never darken the doors never wanted anything to do with Christianity as a whole. That’s the defining thing that’s keeping them back. And we’re allowing that the thing that we don’t even know, we don’t even take the time to study the thing that we don’t even truly understand. And in the other thing is, why are we operating so much out of that fear? If we were true if we were truly afraid,
Elaine Johnston 35:50
right? Like if that the fear
Cody Johnston 35:53
if we were truly afraid of people burning in hell, why are we letting hell be the thing that keeps them from coming into the church? You would think that would all those something we be sensitive enough is that was real to say, hey, maybe that shouldn’t be how we start this conversation, how
Elaine Johnston 36:07
we overemphasize how and under emphasize God’s love and the freedom in asking questions.
Matthew Challenor 36:13
Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, if I read scripture anyway, but the the, the amount of scriptures that are about life in Christ, and you’ve died, then you’re now a new creation, and now you’re living your life to God, or Jesus overcame sin and death. I don’t see hell in Genesis, I didn’t see God saying, You ate the apple. Now, everyone will burn in hell for all eternity, like you said, You will surely die. Like I don’t know, I just see, I don’t see eternal hell in a in a constant theme in Scripture. There may be this idea of like this eternal thing, like in the symbolic passage, but it’s the white is hugely, I don’t even see, like the apostles in x preaching. But in any of the sermons, I never see them you need, where are you going when you die? Where are you spending eternity? I had this conversation with someone online literally, a week ago. And they were saying how, if you look at Jesus’s words, he mentioned hell way more than he mentioned anything related to life. And so I did a little research. And anything pertaining to death, not even health, just death in general, Jesus mentioned maybe 60 times, and life was almost 200, it was in the hundred and 90. And like, Jesus was way more focused on life. And most of those pertaining to death, he was actually reframing in the phrase of life. And so like Jesus was way more
Cody Johnston 37:47
compassionate towards spreading the message of life than he was death.
Matthew Challenor 37:51
Yeah. And I mean, even the times he did speak about death, or Hannah, like, it kind of should make us nervous because he never threatened anyone with it. Except for the religious leaders. The people, he spoke about hell paga, Hannah the most to the people who were on their religious high horse and created us in them groups. He didn’t want them to, like, heal the downtrodden on the Sabbath, or the sick. Yet Caesar, it’s the religious leaders are the ones that hell was directed towards. It was never someone like the woman caught in adultery. So it should make the Christians nervous. It’s like, yeah, Jesus spoke about hell more than anyone that’s like, well, Who’s he talking to? Have you very weary of creating us in them groups, oppressing people? Because that’s what it’s all about. I mean, one of the things that people brought up a lot was the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Like, that was a huge thing, actually, that people would bring it up and pull who was Jesus talking to say, okay, he was talking to the disciples with the Pharisees in earshot. It’s funny that you people take that parable, and they use it to confirm their doctrine, because it talks about, okay, the rich man, he goes to hell, which is actually, Hades anyway. Okay, Hannah, and the poor man, Lazarus goes to Abraham’s bosom. And we use it as a confirmation for a hell doctrine, rather than actually using the parable for its intended meaning. Because one, it is a parable to Jesus is actually saying, if you have the means to help the downtrodden, the oppressed in this life, you should, like that’s, it’s about the oppressed, it’s about taking care of people who are less fortunate, really, like that’s the whole intended meaning, but we kind of bypass that. And we make it about Okay, no, there’s a literal Hades, and then there’s a literal Abraham’s bosom, and there’s a chasm in between. But the thing is, is just like, people think it means hell, in the final judgment, I’m like, if it meant hell, in the final judgment, why the hell does the rich man want to go on his brothers, because if it was the final judgment, he wouldn’t have brought this to one. And it’s like, it was also a folk tale that was widely spread in rabbinic tradition and Egyptian tradition. There were these common stories floating around in that day, where there would always be a reversal of fortunes in the afterlife, they would always be if you’re rich in this life, you’ll be poor on the next door, if you’re poor in this, you’ll be rich in the next. And in those titles, they would always be someone who wants to return from the dead to one people. So it’s already a common story.
Cody Johnston 40:40
That blew my mind. Okay, cool. Now I got some research.
Matthew Challenor 40:45
Yeah, well, I mean, it’s this big thing, like people say, oh, what about the rich man and Lazarus like? And it’s like, well, it’s actually about taking care of the oppressed, like, if you have the means to, and even if you were to take Jesus was literally, it doesn’t give the picture of a final eternal health destination.
Elaine Johnston 41:01
So what would you ask people who are deconstructing how and the idea of how and what they’re going through? What would you ask them?
Matthew Challenor 41:10
To assist in their deconstruction? Yeah, yeah, I would say not to move to another point of fundamentalism. Because I think so often, when we deconstruct the pendulum swing to the other side, and we’re just, we’re kind of just as religious and just as fun, just as much as the fundamentalist, but we’re just on the other side of the spectrum. I mean, the fact is, none of us can be clear about the afterlife. Like as soon as someone thinks they’re 100% on what happens after death, probably not someone who’s asking questions. And I’ll just say for people in deconstruction, like Don’t, don’t lose Jesus keep How did I let it like, push you towards a good and loving father that was revealed perfectly and Jesus, because so often let people deconstruct, deconstruct, deconstruct, and then they end a kind of somewhere in agnosticism, and they kind of lose, lose their faith a bit. And it’s like, well, Jesus is true life. It’s, yeah, we we don’t want to lose that part.
Cody Johnston 42:12
So where can people find you if they want to follow what you have to say? Because I would recommend it? Yes.
Matthew Challenor 42:20
Well, they can follow, they can find my page, Matthew channel on Facebook. I’m the one that has all the debates.
And if you look, search bar seven, no, not really you I
Cody Johnston 42:36
will link you up in the comments below, or in the excuse
Matthew Challenor 42:39
me, will wake you up in the show notes below.
Cody Johnston 42:40
But anyway, Matthew, thank you so much for coming on the show. I really enjoyed the conversation, and I look forward to everyone else’s conversation on the other end. Yeah, no, that sounds great. Thanks for having me, guys. And it’s always like, such a joy to chat to you guys. We just want to thank Matthew again for joining us and being vulnerable, sharing his story of deconstruction, if you’re going through deconstruction, I cannot encourage you enough to head down there to the comment section below. Not only find Matthew, because he offers some amazing insight, honestly, like this guy dropped some truth bombs like nobody’s business. But we also want to just give you a humble invite to nomads, it is a safe place for Christians to ask unsafe questions. There are so many voices in this group who are there to encourage you through this journey. And we just want you to join together to deeper understand who God is beyond the lenses.
Elaine Johnston 43:34
I also just want to say that if you are questioning whether it’s hell, religion, your relationship with God, if you’re just deconstructing everything that you’ve ever believed it I just want you to know that you are not alone, and that God isn’t afraid of your questions. God is bigger. The truth is bigger. The truth is out there that is so much bigger than your your doubts and fears. Like Cody said, like we have our nomads group, follow Matthew on Facebook, but there are people out there who want to just bring you inside and just help give you that peace of mind. If you’re not alone in your thoughts. You’re not alone in your questions. You’re
Cody Johnston 44:13
Elaine Johnston 44:14
No, you’re not crazy whatsoever. That crazy people are the ones who proclaim that they have all the answers right?
Cody Johnston 44:22
quick shout out for my new podcast itinerant, you can find that at itinerant podcast.com we explore some of those more deeper intricate aspects from outside of the perspective of the Bible. So if you’re into history and campfire stories, you should go and find that also keep an open ear for Elaine’s new podcast dropping in November. Is that right?
Elaine Johnston 44:45
Cody Johnston 44:46
okay, so if you are a lady, and you are into business,
Elaine Johnston 44:51
mindset, spirituality, all of that encompassed in one place.
Cody Johnston 44:56
Yes. So that will be coming your way also. And the last thing is all of this stuff, and more. And Matthews final five, don’t forget about Matthews, final five, that is part of our email list. So head over to the reckless pursuit.com forward slash subscribe, join and get all the behind the scenes content, personalized content that goes out just to that group of people. And that’s where you can amass these final five as well. We love you guys and as always be brave, be bold and be reckless. We’ll talk soon
- If you are in deconstruction, what is your “anchor”?
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If you enjoy campfire stories, history, and folklore, check out
Itinerant: Biblical History Beyond the Bible.
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